Football – Should We Allow Our Children to Play?
Back-to-school time is upon us which means our children will begin playing traditional American fall sports. For young women, it maybe volleyball, cheerleading, cross country, or dance team. For young men, it may be cross country or football.
In a new editorial published by the Chicago Tribune, the editorial board states “last year, 3 million kids ages 6 to 18 played organized football in the U.S” while in “Illinois in 2014, nearly 47,000 boys played high school football” making it one of the most popular sports in the country. But with this accolade comes reality. While runners and cross country participants experience many of their own strains, sprains, and injuries, according Ann McKee, director of Boston University’s CTE Center, football is considered one of the most dangerous sports because of the high risks associated with it.
Being a high-contact sport, football comes with many grueling injuries such as breaks, sprains, and strains, but more seriously, concussions.
According to the Chicago Tribune editorial, concern regarding the long-term effects of playing football has sparked due to a new study conducted by Ann McKee’s team. In the study, McKee’s team monitored the brains of 111 deceased NFL players and found all with the exception of one had “CTE, a degenerative disease associated with head trauma and linked to symptoms that include depression, dementia and memory loss.” The study also cites that CTE is found in “three of 14 deceased former high school football players, and 48 of 53 deceased former players at the college level.”
Yes, football comes with protective measures. Helmets protect players’ heads. Mouth guards protect their teeth. Their leg and hip regions are protected by pads inserted into their football pants, and their shoulder and chest region is protected by a bulky plastic shoulder pad contraption, but with McKee’s recent study, many parents are questioning whether those precautions are enough and whether we should allow our children to play such a high contact sport as football. Is football a truly safe sport for our children to be playing?
According to former Detroit Lions player and NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, “Yes. But … be aware of the risks.” Sanders states that the benefits of playing football such as “teamwork, communication, hard work, and goal setting” must be weighed against the potential of brain injury. Just like anything with risk, it’s important to be proactive rather than reactive and to be aware of the potential injuries that can be caused by playing.
What to Consider When Your Sign Your Children Up for Football
Here are somethings to consider when signing your child up for football.
Be sure the child is ready.
Prior to age of 3, children do not have the required motor skills, balance, and attention span to play football. Most junior leagues begin around the ages of 10 or 12 because children have developed both physically and mentally. However, parents should still be hesitant since children all mature and develop at different rates.
Make sure the child has the proper gear.
To stay safe, make sure your child has the correct gear needed for their league. While gear does not need to be new, the equipment needs to be in good, working condition. It is important for the equipment to fit correctly and be worn properly. If the equipment is too big or too small, then it will not properly protect the areas it is intended to protect.
Pick the best program.
Make sure your child is enrolled in a program that has a standard for safety. Coaches, whether paid or volunteer, should be trained in first aid and CPR and know how to utilize the equipment required for the program.
Warm-up and cool-down.
Properly warming up the body before strenuous movement and cooling the body down after working it lessens the likelihood of injury to muscles.
An essential component of football are the abilities to tackle or block. These are skills that come with time and with practice in order to do them correctly. Encourage your child to practice what they are learning to ensure they are doing it correctly to avoid injury.
Ask the correct questions.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, the NFL’s first chief health and medical adviser, there are important questions to consider before signing your child up for football:
- Is the team that my child is going to play on connected to USA Football?
- Is there a certified athletic trainer on the sideline?
- Have the coaches, parents, the players and the trainer been educated around sports injury — particularly head injury and concussion?
- What does my pediatrician think?
There is no one right decision when considering enrolling your child in a football program. The best option to weigh the pros and cons and decide based on what is right for the child. Follow these tips, and hopefully, that decision is much easier.
Injuries can also occur due to negligence. If you or someone you love has been injured due to negligence in team sports or football, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consulation.